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Live by IP, Die by IP: Poetic Justice for Mattel

In a previous post (Live by the Sword), I noted this story: Man files antitrust lawsuit over printer ink, and the irony of companies who “actively pursue, support, and employ government monopolies (patents) and use them to squelch competition” getting hammered by anti-trust law.1

Now comes this report: Toy giant Mattel weighing options after $309 million judgment(h/t Michael Barnett). Turns out Mattel “sued MGA Entertainment Inc. over ownership of the hugely popular Bratz fashion doll line.” In this 2004 lawsuit, Mattel alleged “that Bratz designer Carter Bryant was employed at Mattel when he created the Bratz dolls.” Initially Mattel won a $100M verdict. However, it was overturned on appeal and the case was retried. In the retrial, MGA counterclaimed for trade secrets misappropriation. In the end, “The turbulent legal chapter has now ended with a federal judge ordering Mattel to pay its rival more than $309 million.”

Of course, Mattel is spitting mad that their attempt to wrangle $100M out of MGA ended up with them losing to the tune of $309M–on top of their $400M in legal fees: “‘We are disappointed with the recent rulings on the post-trial motions. Mattel strongly believes that the outcome at the trial level is not supported by the evidence or the law,’ Mattel said in a statement.” Oh well. At least the $309M won by MGA will make up for the $170M they spent on attorneys defending themselves.

Mattel also amusingly said: “we remain committed to finding a reasonable resolution to the litigation, and are focused on our primary goal — to make and sell great toys.” Well if you want to find a reasonable resolution to litigation, don’t institute it. And if your mission is to make and sell great toys, do it, and stop trying to use state monopoly privileges to stop your competitors. Beat your competitors fairly, with better products, rather than using state law to squelch them.

Good for MGA. As for Mattel: live by the IP sword, die by the IP sword.


  1. See also my previous post Live by the centralism, die by the centralism. []
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